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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • February 21, 2006

     

    Library card catalog, R.I.P.

    A sad realization dawns on me just couple days after I fanatically talked about discovering LibraryThing and categorizing my books electronically. Do you remember the old library card catalog? Can you picture the neat rows of wooden cabinets, arrayed with columns of little wooden drawers filled with stiff paper cards arranged by author, title and subject? Many of us can. For the youngest among us (I'm not that old either!), however, that image is probably a thing of the past, replaced by online electronic catalogs. I insouciantly sauntered into the solemn arched hall of UC Berkeley's Doe Library that used to be the home of row after row of wooden library card catalog drawers. One of the librarians told me with a sober tone tinged with pique and remorse that Berkeley will eventually get rid of these antiques that are now can only be found as collectibles in eBay. I always think browsing through the shelves is one of the great joys of visiting the library. But when the shelves get too tall and threaten to take away precious study space, books are relegated to warehouses, sold, given away, or the ineluctable worst: retired to the circular file. Now it seems these exquisite wood card cabinets will confront the same destiny. Since the university library catalog system went electronic in the late 1980s, no update have been made to the card catalog. While these card catalogs have turned endangered species, more and more people are discovering the utility of a card catalog cabinet. Even though many libraries have or will discard their physical card catalogs, the demand for these used treasures is heavy. They can be storage for nuts and bolts, recipes, deposit slips, pin back buttons, coins, sewing supplies, or, if you still own them - cassette tapes, another things from the past.

    6 Comments:

    Blogger piksea said...

    I love the convenience of doing library searches on the computer, but there is no replacement for touching those cards and books. It's sad to see them disappearing. Most people now probably wouldn't even be able to use a card catalog if they found one.

    2/22/2006 7:46 AM  
    Blogger Greg said...

    Those card catalogs remind me so much of elementary school, high school and the public libraries. They seem to symbolize libraries and now, they're being relegated to nuts and bolts or other even the garbage. Very sad.

    2/22/2006 9:22 AM  
    Blogger Matt said...

    Those card cabinets are such exquisite creations. The ones in London (some museum I don't remember which one...) registered in my mind...they have the beautiful claw-and-ball legs. They're probably worth a fortune now since people acquire them as antique furniture pieces. I just mourn their being divested of their proper duty.

    2/23/2006 10:48 AM  
    Anonymous Danielle said...

    I graduated from university when there were still card catalogs, when I returned some time later to take some grad classes, they were gone and I hate to say I didn't even really know how to use the computer catalog. Now I work in the same library and everything seems to be online and now even the periodicals are being pitched--everything seems to be going digital. I want to move with the times, but I truly hate to see books, card catalogs, periodicals...what next...go into the garbage!

    2/27/2006 10:09 AM  
    Blogger Matt said...

    Danielle-

    Many of the periodicals at Berkeley have gone electronic, searchable through Calfiornia Digital Library. Sometimes I save a trip to the library and download a pdf file of an article. But I still wish to preserve the hard copies of these periodicals just for the sake of having them.

    2/27/2006 3:09 PM  
    Blogger Alex said...

    Another library furnishment that has gone the way of the dodo is the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature, a catalog published I believe monthly or quarterly that listed all the articles in the important journals (I have no idea how that was defined) to have appeared in that month/quarter. At the end of the year they bound the ones from that year between hard covers.

    9/12/2007 10:03 PM  

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